Lorna Luft revealed what it was really like to have Judy Garland for a mother.
Garland, who battled with drug and alcohol addiction, was found dead at age 47 from a barbiturate overdose.
“I do think my mother was a victim of the studio system,” 64-year-old Luft told Studio 10. “It also gave her the ability to channel her talent to all of us. It was a real double-edge sword. The highs were incredibly high. The lows… were devastating. I learned about the disease of addiction. And that was a part of the whole story. It wasn’t just the story.”
Luft recalled how growing up, she would switch Garland’s prescriptions pills with sugar to avoid an overdose.
“I was taught how to do that by my dad,” she explained. “When you have a parent who’s teaching you how to take care of your other parent, that’s what you do.”
However, Luft experienced her own struggles. She described using drugs at infamous nightclub Studio 54 in New York City after her mother passed away when Luft was 16.
“We were doing cocaine, we were doing all sorts of things,” said Luft. “And I think, I’ll never forget, somebody came up to me and said, ‘Do you not think that you’re doing the same thing that your mom did?’ And I said, ‘Oh, no, no, no. She had a problem. I only do it at night… stupid.”
Luft ater went to the Betty Ford Center to seek treatment. The reason? She wanted a family of her own.
“I wanted a baby,” she said. “The hangovers were not going away. I really was honestly sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.”
Luft has two children.
She also battled cancer three times. Luft said she relied on her best friend, singer Barry Manilow, for support.
“You don’t know what you’re going to do when you get that diagnosis. You don’t,” she admitted.
But these days, Luft is in a better place. Not only does she pay tribute to her mother on stage, but she also has fond memories of her childhood in Hollywood, including her many famous “uncles” who would drop by at home.
“Everybody was a movie star,” she said. “But I didn’t know that. I just knew they were friends of my parents. I didn’t think anything of Frank Sinatra or Humphrey Bogart or Dean Martin or Sammy Davis or anything — they were my uncle Frank, you know, that’s who they were.”
As for her own musical career, she added it was a natural move to make.
“I didn’t know anything else,” she said. “I don’t think I did anything unusual. I went into the family business.”
And Garland’s life wasn't a tragedy. According to her daughter, she enjoyed stretching the truth just to make fans laugh, especially when it came to her famous role as Dorothy in the 1939 musical fantasy, “The Wizard of Oz.” Rumor has it the munchkins were often drunk on set. That story was told by Garland on television, but it was a lie.
“My mom would embellish on things she knew would make an audience laugh,” said Luft. “Did they happen? Maybe not… That didn’t happen. They would have never, ever risk their careers, their once chance to be in a film. The munchkins were auditioned from all over the world.”
And Luft believes that no matter where life takes her, Garland is always close by.
“She is on my shoulder every single day. Watching over me,” said Luft.